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Beaten Berrettini rues slow start as title hopes are ended by Nadal

The Italian said his performance in the first two sets was not good enough but said he was proud of reaching the semi-finals


Australian Open 2022 | Draw | Order of play 

If you want to beat Rafael Nadal in a big match at Grand Slam level – or any level, for that matter – the chances are you need to start well and maintain that level throughout, with no mental or physical dips.

In his first Australian Open semi-final, Matteo Berrettini played superb tennis in the third and fourth sets but as he reflected on his four-set defeat to the Spaniard on Friday, the Italian rued a slow start which allowed Nadal to settle into his familiar routine.

“The first two sets weren’t what I expected, what I wanted from myself. I was, I wouldn’t say flat, but I wasn’t in the right mood, in the right mental mindset and for so many reasons. I think for the first set time I’m in the semi-finals, against Rafa, so many — there can be so many reasons. But the fact is that I was just like that, and it was good that I had a really big and good reaction. This is the thing that I’m most proud and happy about.

“But you cannot be in the court I think like this for the first two sets against a player like Rafa,” he said. “Even if I was like I was in the third and the fourth, I still don’t know if I could have won the match, but for sure the attitude in the first two, it wasn’t good enough. I think that the score proved it.”

But having made the last four for the first time, last year’s Wimbledon runner-up said he was proud of his performances over the past fortnight.

“The result wasn’t bad, it was good,” he said. “First semis here, especially after last year. But obviously I’m disappointed for today’s match. I expected from myself a little bit more, but it is what it is. I have to learn, if it’s possible to learn, something from today, from the tournament. It was a tough one for so many reasons. Especially physically I have been struggling, but it was a good start of the year, I would say.”

Berrettini-Nadal handshake

Berrettini reveals support from Nadal in locker room

And Berrettini said Nadal had taken time to offer some kind words to him after the match, both on and off the court.

“We always had a great relationship with Rafa since I met him,” the Italian said. “For me, it was an explanation since the really first time that I saw him in the court for the way he is in the court, the way he behaves, and his attitude, we were talking about I learned so much from him, so I wanted to say good luck and obviously well done for what he did so far.

“That’s it. We also chatted a little bit in the locker room. He told me that was a great run, and I told him again, Bravo. It’s just really nice for me to have, like, talk to him and have this kind of conversation, because I’m still learning from them, and it’s good.”

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